Thursday, June 23, 2011


As a little bunny... "family time" was required.
As in mandatory.
I know, all families do that.
But in our home the big rabbit had a very strict code about family events.
He did not allow for exceptions and there was no sense in bothering to ask for a reprieve.
It was not going to happen.
Nor could you ask to have a friend included.
I suppose I can understand that as an adult...
would I have wanted to add in a sixth  body to the back of the station wagon?

He drove a 1956 black Buick.
There was room up front for parents and one small child...
the older you were, the better chances you had to have your own spot on the rear bench seat.
In all my years in that car, I never had a spot on the bench seat
before it was traded in for a Mustang in 1967.
It was one of the lists of blessings and curses of being the baby.

The big rabbit had the attitude that once a week we needed to go 
somewhere... as a family.
If he was tired, it might be a picnic in the park to listen to
a free band concert... with a cooler of beer.
If it was a weekend where he felt energetic,
9 times out of 10,
it was a day trip to some historical place
in California usually involving Gold Rush days.
Those included old timey towns, museums
and quaint places to drink beer.
Hey... you drive 5 kids around in a station wagon all day and
you'd deserve a beer too!
Once a month in the summer we'd all head out for GG's and
Disney Land and  Knott's Berry Farm.
But the real vacations... those that did not involve a quick day trip,
were a tribulation.
When big boo (the brother my oldest was named for)
and I were wee ones, we were shuffled from
the space between mom and dad...
where you could not wiggle or fiddle with anything...
to squirming on one of the big sister's laps in the back seat.
A pre-schooler's nightmare.

Once we got older...
I suspect that this was defined by our level of chattiness...
we were kicked to the back of the Buick.
This space, normally occupied by baggage on shorter weekend
trips was freed up
when the luggage rack was stuck to the top of the car
by big suction cup things with tie downs
and family bags webbed inside.
At least once a trip the big rabbit would have a fit when
mama rabbit had... HAD... to have something from the depths of the web, which required pulling to the edge of the road
with the big rabbit muttering while he tried to extract
whatever from the inner web,
and had to lace and re-lace it back together.
Mama rabbit gave him encouraging directions and all the little bunnies
peeked out the windows.
"Don't touch the glass!"

As if that was a reasonable expectation.
(When we'd stop for the night... the big rabbit would unpack the car and take his bottle of Windex out to remove evidence that
a pack of wild bunnies were riders inside.)
The back of the Buick was a great place in our heads...
big boo and silly little rabbit.
No seat belts in those days!
We could sit cross legged or lay on our backs.
"Get your feet off the roof of the car!"
Or lay on our stomach and color, draw, etc.
We could make faces at cars daring to pass 
the Buick speed racer.
We had pillows and sleeping bags.
Why hadn't we thought to be too chatty sooner?

there were other more dubious reasons for our banishment.

I was prone to asthma attacks... which often prompted mama
rabbits need to have the big rabbit unpack a portion of the web.
"Why wouldn't you put IT in the glove box?"
I'd cough, wheeze and cough some more, bringing up phlegm into my pile of tissues in a paper bag.
Once my lungs calmed down and my sisters stopped trying to help me over the back seat to my mother's direction...
I'd have to lay still and get a grip.

Big boo had his own bag... lined with a plastic bag.
I used to think it would have been great to have vacation photos of that...
Here's big boo puking in the Sierra Nevadas!
I can still hear mama rabbit
"George! He's puking!  Pull over!"
The big rabbit would swerve to the side of the road
encouraging another round.
Big boo would lay back and moan.
It was inevitable that the bunnies would become restless and start to fight and fuss.
The big rabbit's cure for this was to begin to sing
"99 bottles of beer on the wall..."
initiate license plate bingo games...
or my favorite, beetle bug slug fests.

If there was one thing the big rabbit hated about the trips,
it was bathroom stops.
I clearly recall him pointing out cows or rocks... something,
anything to keep mama rabbit from saying, as a  sign approached
"There's a rest stop ahead... anyone have to go?"
Some bunny always had to go!

Finally we reached a decent motel.
Mama rabbit determined what was or wasn't decent.
She would wait an extra half hour to hour for decent
while the lure of stopping and a cool beer drove the big rabbit insane.
This was a dangerous time... and all the little rabbits
knew better than to whine.

The big rabbit would leave the car running while he checked us in and arranged for roll away beds...
all the little rabbits craned their heads to look for the swimming pool.
We had a pool at home.  We swam every day that it was warm.
But there was something about those kidney shaped motel pools...
the slide!
Did it have a slide?  Where was the slide?

We could unpack the Buick faster than a jack rabbit on a date.
(A great line from A Christmas Story)
Mama rabbit always put the suits on top.
We'd gather pool side and wait for the big rabbit to arrive with his magazine and beer, give the nod and jump in.
I can't tell you much about any of the cities we visited.
We traveled mostly in the mid-west
on down to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
Cities bored the snot out of me.
Between there were weird relatives, horned toads and turtles
that I recall clearly.
But those are stories for another day.
Most of what I recall as a kid on those trips is that the big rabbit always seemed to be very cross.
I couldn't help but wonder why he took this sort of misery upon himself.
He could have stayed home and worked on my mother's endless home improvement projects
in the comfort of a noisy swamp cooler, reading his encyclopedias...
sipping his beer.
I suppose it didn't matter.
At the end of his day, there was always something to read and a beer.
May as well tucker the bunnies out, see the sights and visit relatives
who likely as not were just as glad to see the brood go as they were to see us arrive... until the next trip.


  1. Oh wow, this post brought back some great memories! Thank you! I'm glad the Big Rabbit took the time to take those trips with his family. They're not easy, those trips. I remember my dad driving us to parks and campsites. But they were memorable experiences.

    My dad had a station wagon and then bought a big white van without any seatbelts and it smelled like gasoline. There was a big, black star stenciled on the front, so we all called it "The Star Van". I loved it.

  2. Tara- You're welcome! Our family trips were a blast for the most part. Its funny what you recall best.

    I love it..."The Star Van"!

  3. I love your stories but they sometimes take up all my allotted time for blogs! ;-)Wehad the station wagon too, of course, with 6 kids. I don't remember where I sat on long trips. I'll write a post about it - you have inspired me... again! :-)

  4. PS, is that an origami rabbit??

  5. NoRegrets- Ha! Its true, I am super long winded. I love to write and I can't seem to stop once I get going. One of my many "no control" issues. =;D Glad to have inspired you.
    YES! It is an origami rabbit! I can't imagine having the patience to do all the folds required... which is why it ended up here.

  6. Many memories evoked during this post, except before my siblings came along, we had a VW bug. Imagine two trips from NYC to Tampa, Florida (and back) in one of those tiny cars where my mom could easily reach back and play the bongos on my head.

    It wasn't until later that we got a Catalina station wagon and I, being the oldest, got to sit it the back and far away from my mom's reach.

    NoRegrets: This is the only Origami Rabbit I know how to make. I can imagine making the one in the photo.

  7. A great little reminiscence.

    Funny, but I just got through playing 20 questions about a car seat I'm selling on craigslist with a nervous nellie new mom-to-be. Cripes. Do people even remember that most of us now living grew up with no car seats at all?

    The National Association Of Car Seat Retailers recommends you purchase a new car seat for at least every child. Replacing your car seats yearly is preferred.

    Yeah, yeah... my favorite spot was to crawl up onto that ledge under the back windshield, lie down, daydream, wave (or make faces) at other cars. In hindsight, I doubt my dad could have seen anything in his rearview. He never complained though.

    Riding in the open back of a pickup was always nice too, with that highway breeze cooling you off in summer. No seat belts. Or sun cream.

    Well, we had them, right? The seat belts were those things stuffed under the cushion that got in the way when you were looking for change or a lost toy, and sun cream was what you put on a sunburn after you got it.

    Somehow we all survived. Really liked this one.

  8. p.s. my little sister was the puker. My other sister and I called her "the fountain of youth." She was bad enough in the car, but then there was that time we all rode the Tilt-A-Whirl...

    Uh oh.

  9. No Regrets: I meant to type that I can't imagine making the rabbit in the photo.

  10. what a set of memories of the car trips. i remember no seat belts too and the "moooom, he's on my side!" and being told to look out our own windows and not touch. oh and her flinging her arm across the gap between the front seats becasue a mama arm coudl defy the laws of physics and keep us from flying thru the windshiled.

  11. Cube- Oh my in a VeeDub! That is waaaay to close to the long arm of the car!
    "play bongos on my head" Ha! My mom would clonk us on top of the head with her middle finger knuckle... and I seriously saw stars! It a was quick fix to kid out of control in the market, church or wherever... and completely surprised us.
    I'm gonna do that oragami rabbit!

  12. Cricket- We are so safety crazy! I suspect that the suggestion to buy a new car seat every year is about making more money off of our fears.
    I was too tall to fit in the Mustang ledge by the time we got it (and two of five kids had moved on). No doubt we would have tried it.
    I loved riding in the back of the pick up truck!
    We still see that up here in the sticks.
    We did survive and so did our parents who allowed these things and were no worse parents than that lady obsessing over a used car seat! I celebrated the day my last child weighed enough to leave car seats behind.

  13. Cricket-EEeeewwww... but, LOL! Because big boo and I were closest in age, he was almost always my amusement park co-pilot. But he was good at going in short bursts, so as long as we let the green leave his gills before the next ride... he was good to go again.

  14. lime- I believe in the power of the mama arm!
    Big boo was fond of the annoying power of brother "finger"... it hovered almost touching and the series of "Don't touch me! Mom make him stop!" progressed to "He's touching meeeee!"

  15. great post. brought back a few 'road trips in the Chevy' memories for me (as the youngest of 8, i never had any space of my own either...)

    congrats on the POTW

  16. Excellent collection of memories. Lots of fun to remember those days.

    Congratulations on the POTW at Hillary's place (and thanks to my swell pal, Cricket, for recommending you over there, otherwise I might have missed this.)

  17. texwisgirl- Hi! Welcome down in the hole! I can't imagine being number 8! Number 5 was crowded enough for me. But crowded was often fun too.

    What? Really! A POTW? ME? Well, I'm stunned.

  18. Suldog- Thanks! I'm glad that you enjoyed them. =:D
    I'm still stunned here. Honestly, there are times when I think no one is reading. Not that it matters. Words fall out of my head. I have fun playing with them and things are rarely serious for me along that line. I'm going to have to go to Hillary's place and check this out.
    Yep... that Cricket is a real find! Since my friendship began with him... thanks to your blog btw... my life has had a lot of joy in it.
    Cricket is a wonderful story teller... can make you cry or laugh out loud. Now that's a gift!